TALLAHASSEE - The migrants Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent to Martha's Vineyard were homeless and given "multiple opportunities" to voluntarily take the trip or stay behind, senior officials in the DeSantis administration told reporters on a background call Monday afternoon.
The officials said the migrants that were sent on two planes to the Massachusetts island last week, which sparked a major backlash from Democrats, were "wandering the border" homeless in Texas before being intercepted by Florida to be given "a better life" in a sanctuary state.
"So the groups in Texas that we've identified, the majority if not all of the individuals that originated in Texas and ended up on the flight to Martha's Vineyard were indeed homeless, hungry, sleeping outside in parking lots," the officials said. "Many have been in a shelter at some point previously and had been kicked out, did not have a place to go, and essentially we're wandering homeless along the border."
The DeSantis administration said the migrants were informed of their destination and that they were given "multiple" opportunities to decline the trip. Officials said the individuals were offered hotels, meals, showers and haircuts for a couple of days before the trip and that some indeed declined to go.
"During the flights, individuals were given bags with snacks, with water and other provisions and information taken from the Massachusetts website that talks about benefits that are available in a sanctuary state," the officials said.
The administration also said the rumors about the migrants being promised jobs in Martha’s Vineyard were also untrue, and that the individuals were simply presented with information about the benefits and services that are commonly found in sanctuary states.
"These were homeless people that were in a rough situation and undoubtedly had their circumstance improved," the officials said. "In fact, several have already communicated their thanks for the opportunity to go to the sanctuary state."
Multiple Democrats including the White House have accused DeSantis’ transportation of migrants out of state as being illegal.
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether DeSantis could be charged with kidnapping, despite launching a program as San Francisco mayor that bussed thousands of homeless people out of San Francisco and the state.
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